Accessibility in UX Design

Infographic showing three groups of disability: permanent, temporary and situational.
From the Microsoft Inclusive Toolkit

The Web Accessibility Guidelines aren’t just for web designers and tech people. We all need to have an overall grasp of what they are about. As we do more online it is important we don’t make things inaccessible by mistake. Claire Benidig introduces the concepts of accessibility in UX design using the guide from Microsoft.

Cognition, Vision, Hearing, Mobility and Mental Health are all covered in an easy to read way. So, non-tech people can understand.

If we know about the basics of web accessibility, we can give a decent brief to a web designer. Then we will we can check if the Web Accessibility Guidelines were built in. Many designers still think of accessibility as an add-on feature.

Claire’s article is titled, Accessibility in UX Design.  She says that accessibility is not confined to a group of users “with some different abilities”. Anyone can experience a permanent, temporary or situational disability. An example of situational disability is having just one arm free because you are holding a baby or the shopping. 

Microsoft inclusive design principles state:

“Exclusion happens when we solve problems using our own biases. As Microsoft designers, we seek out those exclusions, and use them as opportunities to create new ideas and inclusive designs.”

UX and Mental Health 

A drawing of a woman with her back turned to her laptop. She has her head in her hands signifying a mental health event.

It’s safe to say that everyone has experienced a website or app that is difficult to use. But little is known on how difficult interactions with apps and websites affect people with mental health conditions. UX design, or user-centric design, is associated with digital and website design. However, UX is not quite the same as co-design with actual users.

Danae Botha says that “a confusing UX could trigger anxiety” and repetitive tasks can make depression worse. Repetitive alerts are not great for someone with an attention disorder either.

Design for mental health reduces or eliminates features that can aggravate symptoms of a disorder. For example, automating menial tasks may decrease the risk of boredom-induced depressive symptoms.

In her article, Botha offers some tips for organisations and companies to minimise communication barriers. She covers many of the different apps available such as Teams, Jira Slack, and Miro and explains their pros and cons.

The title of the article is, Kinder Tools: How to Improve Enterprise UX Design for Mental Health.

Talking to users: an introvert’s guide

A desk has highlighter pens in different colours, working papers and a smart phone.What if you are a designer and you’re not sure how to engage with your user base? According to a UXDesign blog post, many designers are introverted and don’t know where to start with user interviews. A fear of talking to strangers brings up many thoughts: 

I’m no researcher, what if I don’t ask the right questions?
What if I say something to offend the person?
How do I not contaminate the responses with my own views?

So some tips for stepping outside the comfort zone are helpful. The article has some practical advice such as, don’t jump straight into the questions without some light introductory chat. And fix the things you didn’t like about the interview process for the next time. The title of the article is An introvert’s guide to starting user interviews.

However, it might be the case that the personalities that go into ICT are not the people who are good at user interaction. This might be why higher education programs are not producing graduates who are skilled at this side of the design process. Indeed, according to an article from Norway, the institutions are not training people to even meet basic legal design requirements for accessibility.

Accessibility Toolbar